By: Toby Martin-Kohls
The Highland Park Mountain Bike team ended its season at the State Championships at Redhead Mountain Bike Park in Chisholm, MN on October 16. It was the most significant and final race of the five-race 2022 season. Highland had 8 high schoolers racing across four different categories. Karl Haaland and Toby Martin-Kohls were the lone Varsity riders for Highland, while Josh Thompson raced JV3. Liam Hefferan, August Johnson, and Benji Brunner raced JV2, and Theo Miller and Trevor Kristjanson raced Freshman. Minnesota has a high school league for mountain biking, the Minnesota Cycling Association, that is not affiliated with MSHSL.
There are a few differences between racing in the Minnesota Cycling Association and a typical MSHSL sport. There are still Varsity and Junior Varsity athletes, but there is no limit to how many can race in a category. For team scoring, high schools with a larger team are in Division 1, while smaller schools are in Division 2.
Also, unlike some MSHSL sports, there are many more categories for athletes to race under. Everyone who wants to race gets to race, regardless of ability. Because of this, the Minnesota Cycling Association has seven categories of races. Races are also separated by gender. 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Freshman, JV2, JV3, and Varsity. Racers are put into the appropriate category by age and racing experience.
Mountain Biking is a great way to get outside and improve your fitness. The Highland Park team officially practices 2-3 times a week, starting at the beginning of July and ending in mid-October. The first races are usually in late August and run until mid-October. Like other Highland teams, we practice with the Saint Paul Composite Mountain Biking team (SPY MTB). However, we race as different teams.
Practices are usually around 2hrs long. On Tuesdays, the team meets at Hidden Falls for a road ride. On Thursdays, we meet at various trails around the Twin Cities
There is no obligation to race, many people join the team just to have fun biking the outdoors with a great community.
Below is an interview with Karl Haaland, who is a Junior, and races at the Varsity level.
Q: Why did you decide to join the Mountain Biking Team?
A: Because my dad had started coaching, and I wanted to try something new.
Q: What is your favorite part about being on the team?
A: Being able to bike with friends and be able to compete against others from all around the state.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering joining the team?
A: You should join it, you don’t have to race if you don’t want to but it is not stressful at all.
Q: What is your favorite trail in the Twin Cities?
A: Lebanon Hills in Eagan.
Q: If you had unlimited money what bike would you buy?
The Trek Supercaliber 9.9 XX1